Water Sensitive SA

Living streams – projects to re-imagine & inspire our urban spaces

Living streams – projects to re-imagine & inspire our urban spaces

29 August 2023

Living streams - Newenham, Mount Barker

On 10 August 2023, more than 220 WSUD practitioners from around Australia came together for the Living streams webinar. This was the first forum of the National WSUD Community of Practice to discuss how to transform urban spaces through thoughtful design that puts people and natural systems at the centre of design (a nature-based approach to stormwater).

To say the presentations were inspiring is an understatement. Anything is possible if we approach development or urban renewal with a shared, clear vision for the space – that includes a commitment to natural spaces, protection or enhancement of biodiversity values, management of flow regimes, and improved water quality. The projects showcased at the Living Streams webinar never wavered from these goals – and the results are incredible.

You can watch all of the Living streams videos now, or read on for an overview of each presentation.

Water management – a traditional owner’s perspective, South Australia

Warriparinga wetlands SA

Corey Turner, South Cultural Immersion, provides a traditional owner’s perspective, presenting a compelling case for why we should be granting our urban streams living entity status, and in doing so provide greater protections for their cultural and ecological values. Corey demonstrated how obstructions and development within riparian zones limits future opportunities to create living streams, and invited participants to consider what a watercourse restoration fund might look like.

The living waterways framework, Queensland

The living waterways framework, Queensland

Rachael Nasplezes and Georgia Glidden, Healthy Land & Water, take participants through project assessment criteria within the living waterways framework under the categories living water, living environment, living communities and living local economies. This framework promotes the integration of stormwater systems and stormwater treatment into natural landscapes by incorporating the natural, historical and cultural elements of a site. It is a valuable resource for anyone setting out to undertake a living streams project.

Our final three speakers shared the design processes from some awe-inspiring projects involving the conversion of concrete drains and highly degraded farmland to highly biodiverse linear parks and waterways.

New Town Rivulet Project, Tasmania

New Town Rivulet project, Tasmania - existing infrastructure and proposed

Nigel Vivian, Sugden & Gee, describes how City of Hobart, in partnership with Glenorchy City Council, plans to restore the mouth of New Town Rivulet to a more natural, estuarine landscape, enhance the health of the River Derwent, and protect habitat for local bird life. This bold design had to resolve the increasing risk of erosion from deteriorating concrete embankments that were falling into disrepair. The need for asset renewal provided an opportunity to return the estuary environment to a natural system, while reducing the deposition of sediment into the estuary, reducing the flood risk in a 1% AEP storm event, and managing batter areas of high stress with rock protection.

Fairwater riparian corridor rehabilitation, New South Wales

Fairwater riparian corridor rehabilitation, New South Wales

David Knights, Civille, shares the inspiration behind the design that has transformed more than 800 metres of concrete channel into an engaging series of terraced ecological gardens within the riparian zone. The low flows are managed through a rock riffle, with higher flow storm events treated through a “wet garden” or wetland. Five years on, this linear park is an engaging space that draws people in to connect with nature.

Re-creating Neerigen Brook, Western Australia

Re-creating Neerigen Brook, Western Australia 

Helen Brookes, Urbaqua, explains how a regenerative approach to the design of the land division for Springtime Development at Neerigen Brook in Western Australia created a living stream from an agricultural drain as part of the subdivisional and development process. The project was driven by objectives for enhanced water quality, slower flowing waters for increased community safety, and a desire for the vegetation to draw heavily from local biodiversity.

You can watch all of the Living streams videos now.

The National WSUD Community of Practice webinar series is proudly supported by:

Logo of the National WSUD Community of Practice

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Acknowledgement of Country

Water Sensitive SA acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Nations of the lands and waters we live and work upon, and we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge and respect the deep spiritual connection and the relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to Country.